Bullying is often common in schools, but it is often found in workplaces and other organisational structures where there is a hierarchy too. It can occur anywhere. Bullying is also rife in family dynamics.
In Virginia Satir’s work on family therapy, she identifies typical roles that family members play that can explain problems within the family dynamic. These are known as the Satir categories. According to her model, bullying largely comes from the role she terms as the Blamer. The Blamer is someone who essentially feels unappreciated in some way, or perhaps unsuccessful in some way. Their response is to bully other members of the family;
A dominance posture that asserts power and authority. It can be aggressive, even offensive, and signals that the other person has done something wrong and is being called to account. It is characterised by a square-on posture, leaning in to the accused person and often supported by a pointy finger.Mike Clayton, VIRGINIA SATIR: FAMILY THERAPY
Adult bullying case studies
While bullying may not always look like the description above, it is one form that is fairly obvious. I have had many clients concerned with the affects of family bullying upon their mental health. While it is often true that these cases began in childhood, it is not always the case that it stays in childhood, or that it only begins in childhood. Rick is one such example.
Rick had an older sister who was a hardcore man hater. Even though Rick was just a boy, his sister treated him as a villain. One day Rick was quietly reading his book when the sister called him to dinner. He said he would be two minutes while he finished the page he was on. But the sister was adamant to put him into line. She tore up to his room and grabbed him by the testicles and dragged him to the dinner table downstairs.
Her behaviour was dangerous, nasty and hateful. She simply hated men and any innocent boy who would soon become one. Rick’s sister was hostile her entire life, and she died lonely, without friends or a partner. She was a horrendous bully, fuelled by her judgement against the male sex.
Later on, Rick had a daughter who suffered from a psychological disorder. At the time that Rick came into the clinic, he was sure that he would outlive her, which caused him great sadness. However, she was also a hostile bully towards Rick, and towards her mother. This left Rick and his wife feeling grief at their daughter’s state of health, but it also perpetuated Rick’s experience with being bullied. While Rick was a child when his experience of bullying began, it was now perpetuated by his own child.
Rick needed to resolve the heavy burden of feeling constantly put down. Fortunately he had an excellent relationship in his marriage, but his experience of the females in his bloodline was very negative. We worked on that feeling of being put down through an age regression, and Rick became quite emotional as we reframed that initial event, which had started the belief that feeling bullied was normal.
Reasons for bullying
Bullies often have low self-esteem, which is why Satir’s interpretation of the Blamer’s motives makes sense. It made sense with Rick’s daughter. If someone feels as through they are unappreciated it can often be a sign of low self-esteem. If they feel as though they are failing, it means the same. Rick’s daughter was in fact, failing. Whether the bully is one of Satir’s Blamers, as Rick’s daughter and his sister both were, or whether bullying is done in order to fit in, or some other reason, it is all intended to hurt – physically, socially or psychologically. Within a family, types of bullying range from verbal to physical or social bullying.
Some of the reasons behind bullying include:
- fitting in by improve their status within the family structure through oppressing others
- putting a family member down in order to feel better about themselves
- poor emotional intelligence, failing to realise that their behaviour is problematic
- behaving selfishly, taking out their hatred, anger or jealousy out on a family member
- passing on learnt behaviour, perhaps watching a parent bully the other parent.
If you need to overcome the oppressive feeling of being bullied, whether through the family or elsewhere, hypnotherapy and NLP can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.